Have you ever questioned whether a Wharton family exists, if you are part of that extended family or even if families in general are a good thing? You would have had few doubts by the conclusion of the 2012 Joseph Wharton Awards Dinner, hosted at the Essex House in Manhattan.
There were the honorees themselves, three of whom joined and helped lead their family’s enterprises to unprecedented new heights:
Brian L. Roberts, W’81, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, received the 2012 Joseph Wharton Award for Leadership. He joined his father — Ralph J. Roberts, W’41, Hon’05 — fresh out of Wharton, sales at the firm are now over 3,000 times greater today!
Leonard A. Lauder, W’54, Chairman Emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies, received the 2012 Joseph
Wharton Award for Lifetime Achievement. He similarly joined his parents’ fledgling company after graduating
from Wharton, and leaving the Navy.
Ivanka Trump, W’04, Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions of The Trump Organization, received the 2012 Joseph Wharton Award for Young Leadership. She grew up learning from the one and only Donald J. Trump, W’68, and the story of her impact is still in the early chapters, but so far, she’s exceeding everyone’s expectations.
David B. Nash, WG’86, Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health, received the 2012 Joseph Wharton Award for Social Impact. His story is shared below.
We were honored to have the heads of the extended family present. University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann opened the evening, giving credit to the generosity of the Penn alumni family, exemplified by the evening’s four honorees that “have taken their Wharton education and made the world a better place.”
David Cohen, L’81, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation also commended the honorees. “Tonight we gather to celebrate the accomplishments of four remarkable alumni.
“David Nash has had an extraordinary impact on the world through his role at Thomas Jefferson University. Ivanka, as Amy Gutmann said, it is absolutely remarkable what you have accomplished, and we can’t wait for the next 24 acts as you go through your life. On a more personal level, Leonard has been an inspiration to so many people at Penn. He’s been a thought leader for what the University should stand for and incredibly generous philanthropically. I won’t easily forget when I was named the Chairman of the Trustees, I came up and you gave me two hours in your office instead of the thirty minute we had scheduled. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a lifetime achievement award. I get to work with Brian Roberts everyday, and gotten to be his friend for twenty years. If there is anyone who exemplifies more the tradition of Joseph Wharton, of entrepreneurship, of thinking what can we do to make the world better than when we started, I just don’t know who that is.”
Wharton Dean Tom Robertson spoke about multiple exciting new developments at Wharton including the School’s new Lifelong Learning curriculum, which offers technology tools for younger alumni, how to manage your firm’s external relations for senior alumni, and likely something for you!
Dave Power, WG’59, as Honorary Chair conferred his blessing upon the gathering and nominated Club president Kenny Beck, WG’87, “for honorary chair of the University’s Alumni Association!”
Club President Kenny Beck, WG’87, shared a story of how, when he was young, his family watched the Academy Awards every year, until the end of the credits, to see the name of its producer, Walter C. Miller. While his family had never met Miller, he was his mother’s second cousin. Kenny said, “I now watch Robert Wolf ’s, W’84 new show, Impact Players, because he went to Wharton; the Dr. Oz Show, because Mehmet Oz, WG’86, M’86, went to Wharton; and I watch The Apprentice, because they all went to Wharton! I realized that this is kind of like an extended family, that I feel just as proud to see these alumni do great things as I do seeing the accomplishments of my mother’s cousin. We help each other; we support each other; and we Take the Call.”
“I owed everything I had in life to Wharton.” – W. P. Carey, W’53
Two of the school’s extended family were then recognized. First, W. P. Carey, W’53, who, before recently passing away, commissioned a set of portraits for the school, illustrating the life of Joseph Wharton, from 1846 to 1901. Mr. Carey, who has established business schools at Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University, once said, “I owed everything I had in life to Wharton.”
Next recognized was Al Shoemaker, W’60, Hon’95, who before Kenny could begin, called out from his table, “I’m not dead!” Al was the 2008 recipient of the Joseph Wharton Lifetime Leadership Award, as well as former Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees. Jon Huntsman, W’59, H’96, sent a birthday card to Al, which partially read, “What a grand event to be celebrating your 277th birthday, which coincides with the founding of the University of Pennsylvania.…I must say that you are the finest friend a man could have, and I can think of few people who have such a fine sense of ethics, great integrity and complete honesty.…I must admit, however, that you married considerably up when Sally came into your life. She’s done a fabulous job in teaching you how to dress and how to conform to Wall Street standards, at least those that were in effect 40 years ago, when you ran the neighborhood. … … I particularly appreciate your last trip to the South Fork River, when I caught a five-pound rainbow trout, and you caught a sixinch whitefish [to which Al Shoemaker called out, “It’s a lie!”]. I can hardly wait for you to return to Idaho so we can fly-fish again. Know always that I love you, Al. You are truly the finest friend I’ve ever known.” After that, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Al.
“He had this deep voice and said, ‘Dave, get on a train. Come to see me.’ I had never been to Philadelphia, but off I go, to see Sam Martin. That began a 25-year-plus mentoring process.” – David Nash, MD, WG’86
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” David Nash, MD, WG’86, recipient of this year’s Joseph Wharton Award for Social Impact, explained how he reached when he was only 17. “My story starts 40 years ago in 1972. I was a high school senior in Merrick, Long Island, and I was reading an interview with Dr. Samuel P. Martin III, about the future of the physician leader. Samuel was a founder of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the Wharton campus. My late father asked, ‘Why don’t you write to him?’ So, I got out my Smith Corona typewriter and wrote Sam a letter. He called me at my house. He had this deep voice and said, ‘Dave, get on a train. Come to see me.’ I had never been to Philadelphia, but off I go, to see Sam Martin. That began a 25-year-plus mentoring process. That’s my core Wharton connection. So, what does Wharton mean to me? Basically, almost everything!”
Thus, stories were shared, and friendships made, and the Wharton family extended a little further at the 2012 edition of the annual Joseph Wharton Dinner.